BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The religious leader who founded the Unification Church in1954 in Seoul, South Korea and built it into a multibillion-dollar business empire, founded the conservative daily newspaper, the Washington Times, and supported and bolstered the religious right in America, has died in South Korea at 92.
Last August, I wrote:
Trying to recap more than 50 years of Moon-ness is like having Tolstoy's War and Peace made into a classic comic book.
It's practically impossible to get a handle on the whole thing, but here are some things that come to mind:
Potential members recruited off college campuses by nefarious means;
CAUSA International, Moon's anti-communist operation;
The tax evasion scheme that cost Moon 18 months in prison in the 1980s;
Support for Richard M. Nixon during Watergate and his close relationship to the Reagan administration and the Bush family;
Ownership of News World Communications, his international news operations which has included the conservative daily Washington Times and United Press International, as well as publications in a number of foreign countries;
Large financial contributions to keep Jerry Falwell's Liberty University afloat;
A myriad of front groups that draw in all sorts of powerful religious and political leaders;
Financial incursions into the black community;
Well-publicized and predictably awkward arena/stadium mass marriages;
Support for Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan's Million Family March in Washington DC;
His coronation as the "king of peace" in the Dirksen Senate Office; Building in March 2004, where Moon called himself the Messiah and claimed that his teachings have helped Hitler and Stalin be "reborn as new persons";
A number of major business operations, including computers and religious icons in Japan, seafood in Alaska, ginseng in Korea, huge tracts of land in South America, a recording studio and travel agency in Manhattan, a horse farm in Texas and a golf course in California.
“Today,” the Associated press reported, “the Unification Church has 3 million followers, including 100,000 members in the U.S., and has sent missionaries to 194 countries,” Unification Church spokesman Ahn Ho-yeul said. “But ex-members and critics say the figure is actually no more than 100,000 members worldwide.”
According to AP, “The church will hold a 13-day mourning period and start accepting mourners Thursday at a multipurpose gym at its nearby religious center, the church said in a statement. The funeral will be held on Sept. 15, and Moon will be buried at nearby Cheonseung Mountain, where his home is located.”
Moon’s death will not end the Moon family dynasty. AP pointed out that Moon’s U.S.-born youngest son, the Rev. Hyung-jin Moon, “was named the church's top religious director in April 2008. … [and] Other children run the church's businesses and charitable activities in South Korea and abroad.”
Although there has been ongoing internecine strife, Moon’s work will live on - in some manner, shape and form - with his children at the helm of various pieces of his empire.